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Thread: Italy invented coffee culture. Now itís a coffee time capsule.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Italy invented coffee culture. Now itís a coffee time capsule.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Unsure whether ignorance, arrogance or insecurity, the Americans seem to think the rest of the world rotates around around good old planet America.

    This from the Washington Post sums it up pretty well,

    "Italian coffee culture is so ingrained that even Starbucks hasnít made many inroads, only opening its first store in September in Milan."

    Shock horror! charbucks has failed to make inroads, I'm stunned, seem to recall they were a dismal failure in Oz as well, wonder why?

    Lots more gems in the article, certainly worth a read.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...f6b_story.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Unsure whether ignorance, arrogance or insecurity, the Americans seem to think the rest of the world rotates around around good old planet America.
    I had seen that article too, and I think you may have taken it the wrong way. The Starbucks angle was a minor aside and not the main thrust at all.

    The key point the article makes, and quite correctly, is that the specialty coffee market (such as we have in places like Australia) is virtually absent in Italy. Coffee in Italy is extremely generic, made to a cut price for serving at the counter and there has been little to no innovation, development or experimentation over the years. There is just a tiny speciality market, and everyone seems afraid to take that step into the unknown.

    The barista they mentioned in the article who *is* taking that step got the idea after visiting Melbourne.

    New brewing techniques, new roasting styles and such are virtually absent in Italy, but are reasonably popular in other parts of Europe like Holland, and the Nordic countries. In other words, the article correctly observes that the Italian coffee scene is something of a time capsule. Absolutely correctly in my view.

    My own observation from trips to Italy is that they use very generic beans for a pretty average espresso. Ultimately, if your chain smoking customers are paying 1 euro and slamming it down standing at the bar with two spoons of sugar, what incentive is there to change?
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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Shock horror! charbucks has failed to make inroads, I'm stunned, seem to recall they were a dismal failure in Oz as well, wonder why
    Far from a dismal failure but they've certainly gone out of fashion. There was a large Starbucks near where I worked in Sydney CBD around 10 years ago which always had long queues of people waiting to get served and evey table in and out occupied. Certainly not the case now, last time I walked past there were fewer than 20 patrons.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I thought the post would generate interest.

    I believe I got the gist of the article Herzog, my feeling is when you have a successful coffee coffee culture why mess with it, it may well be a coffee time capsule but what a delightful one it is, evangelists of all types, for better or for worse always want to convert others to their way of doing things.

    Yes I noted Matteo was inspired when he fell for non-Italian coffee after trying it in Melbourne Australia, not Washington DC, not at all surprising.

    Whilst I agree not all Italian coffee is good, its most certainly not all bad, in fact I found excellent espresso readily available during a visit a couple of years ago.

    Re Starbucks Flynn, if they didnt fail in Oz they certainly did an excellent imitation of failing.
    "Starbucks failed to assess the local culture of Australia. They entered a market that had no room for them. Worse, they failed to identify that they were failing. Unfortunately, Starbucks continued to grow their troubled business until finally disaster struck."
    STARBUCKS (Failure in Australian Market)

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    Italy invented coffee culture. Now itís a coffee time capsule.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Whilst I agree not all Italian coffee is good, its most certainly not all bad, in fact I found excellent espresso readily available during a visit a couple of years ago.
    Yeah I wouldn't call it bad either. In fact I canít recall having a bad coffee in Italy. But by the same token, Iíve never had one thatís mind blowing either. It's consistent, I'll give you that. I'd call it all about "OK" and very very generic.

    There's not much variety or diversity in Italian espresso. Cafes that roast their own beans are almost non existent, and instead most places rely on bulk contract beans from the mass suppliers.
    Last edited by herzog; 4th January 2019 at 11:17 AM.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Have to admit to being a bit of an Italophile, enjoy most things Italian, particularly food, coffee, wine and art.

    Like most countries not all good, I guess nothing is perfect.
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    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Imy feeling is when you have a successful coffee coffee culture why mess with it, it may well be a coffee time capsule but what a delightful one it is, evangelists of all types, for better or for worse always want to convert others to their way of doing things.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Have to admit to being a bit of an Italophile, enjoy most things Italian, particularly food, coffee, wine and art.

    I had a young Italian winemaker working with me in 2017, he reckoned Italian wine went off the rails in the 90's when they decided everything French was better than Italian and they brought in cabernet, merlot, maturation in new small oak etc etc.

    Most of the best winemakers returned to more traditional methods over the next 20 years, he was of the opinion that things improved greatly when they did.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 4th January 2019 at 12:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    I had a young Italian winmaker working with me in 2017, he was of the opinion that Italian wine went off the rails in the 90's when they decided everything French was better than Italian, so they brought in cabernet, merlot, maturation in new small oak etc etc.

    He was of the opinion that some things improved (particularly the whites) but the best reds went backwards until they went back to something closer to the traditional approach.
    That's a very interesting observation. With wines, your regional specialisation is absolutely key. It's crazy to throw that away.

    Wine people want Pinot Noir out of Burgundy, Cabernet blends out of Bordeaux, and Nebbiolo from Piedmont.

    I imagine the winemaker was talking about the "supertuscan" craze of the 90's, when the tuscan winemakers blended Bordeaux varietals into their traditional Sangiovese. And while some worked out, it's also fair to say that some abominations ensued.

    FWIW, I reckon the best wine in the world is the Barolo out of Piedmont.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    To quote from the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano:

    Since 1998 the Italian Espresso National Institute safeguards the quality of the Italian espresso through a sensory certification

    On July 6, 1998 the Italian Espresso National Institute (Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano) was founded, with the specific goal of safeguarding and promoting the original Espresso. Today the Italian Espresso National Institute is one of the most important associations in the coffee market counting 39 member companies. It groups espresso-equipment producers and roasters which develop overall €700M revenues.

    The Italian Espresso National Institute safeguards and promotes the original Espresso through a product certification (certificate of product conformity Csqa n. 214 - 24 September 1999, DTP 008 Ed.1). Each member company which complies with the certification requirements has the right to use the mark Espresso Italiano Certificato (Certified Italiano Espresso). To guarantee consumers who choose to drink espresso at coffee bars bearing this mark, a strict technical specification has been issued, requiring the use of a certified coffee blend, certified equipment (machine and grinder-dispenser) and licensed personnel. The compliance of the three conditions above is supervised by the experts of the Italian Espresso National Institute and by the auditors of the Certifying Body.
    So yes, you will find that the espresso throughout Italy tends to taste the same, by design.


    Java "Less Robusta please!" phile
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    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Getting off topic, I know!

    I reckon some of the best wines (red and white) come from the Clare and Barossa Valleys right here in Australia.

    Yeah, I know, my bias is showing again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I reckon some of the best wines (red and white) come from the Clare and Barossa Valleys right here in Australia.
    If you like drinking boiled jam.

    I'll get my coat...

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    To quote from the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano:



    So yes, you will find that the espresso throughout Italy tends to taste the same, by design.


    Java "Less Robusta please!" phile
    Once again the Italian influence, I grew up in a city with a big Italian migrant community and learned early on to enjoy their food and culture.

    I quite like blends with a percentage of Robusta, I'm into a roast now that is 90% Yirg and 10% Robusta, drinking very nicely.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    If you like drinking boiled jam.

    I'll get my coat...
    Tell me more, examples would be good.

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    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    Continuing OT:

    The Barossa is changing and in my view improving: there is more attention paid to subregionality now and less to Parkerising the wines (Robert Parker, a very influential American critic, loves boiled jam).

    As a counterpoint try the wines of Peter Schell (Spinifex) or Alex Head (Head Wines).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird View Post
    Continuing OT:

    The Barossa is changing and in my view improving: there is more attention paid to subregionality now and less to Parkerising the wines (Robert Parker, a very influential American critic, loves boiled jam).

    As a counterpoint try the wines of Peter Schell (Spinifex) or Alex Head (Head Wines).

    I was yanking Yelta's chain a bit there but yes these observations are spot on, and you're right they are moving away from the OTT boiled jam that peaked a few years ago. I've been buying Head wines lately with some good results. Have not tried Spinifex.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Love the big gutsy (boiled jam) strange term, all jam is boiled, we use the term jammy type wines here, and the Clare Valley is home to some of the best, Seven Hill Wines are still noted for big bold Jammy reds, love em.

    And therein lies a clue to my preferences, I enjoy big bold flavours in Coffee and wine, one of the reasons pour over and French press type coffee's simply don't cut the mustard for me.

    All down to preferences, vive la difference!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I thought the post would generate interest.

    I believe I got the gist of the article Herzog, my feeling is when you have a successful coffee coffee culture why mess with it, it may well be a coffee time capsule but what a delightful one it is, evangelists of all types, for better or for worse always want to convert others to their way of doing things.

    Yes I noted Matteo was inspired when he fell for non-Italian coffee after trying it in Melbourne Australia, not Washington DC, not at all surprising.

    Whilst I agree not all Italian coffee is good, its most certainly not all bad, in fact I found excellent espresso readily available during a visit a couple of years ago.

    Re Starbucks Flynn, if they didnt fail in Oz they certainly did an excellent imitation of failing.
    "Starbucks failed to assess the local culture of Australia. They entered a market that had no room for them. Worse, they failed to identify that they were failing. Unfortunately, Starbucks continued to grow their troubled business until finally disaster struck."
    STARBUCKS (Failure in Australian Market)
    G'day Yelta

    If one of my undergrad students produced that (STARBUCKS (Failure in Australian Market) paper, it would be a clear, abject fail. As for the postgrad ones - they wouldn't dare. That is possibly one of the worst, most superficial analyses I have seen for quite a while. All the key facts are only mentioned in passing or glossed over.

    I only hope Starbucks is stupid enough to try in Oz again using the outlined solutions... The planet has too many wannabee US companies trying to dominate other countries and they would fail again here.

    Italian espresso coffee - I suspect the Italians will be drinking their dark roasted robusta blends for the foreseeable future. I don't see that making inroads in Oz either.

    Mercifully, the world has moved on and muticultural Oz in particular has oodles of choice in almost every sector of life. Viva La Difference.

    TampIt

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    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    As one uninterested in travel, it is unlikely that I will ever sample the coffee in Italy or the US but judging from the comments I get from travel-junkie friends it is just as well I don't as without a better than average coffee every morning I wouldn't be a nice person to be around.

    Drank a 2015 Wolf Blass Gold label Barossa Shiraz with friends last week. It typified the 'jammy style' being discussed. It was a lovely intense wine and I will buy some to cellar but I wouldn't want to drink the same style all the time. Nice to have variety which is readily available from all the wine-growing areas in Australia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    G'day Yelta

    If one of my undergrad students produced that (STARBUCKS (Failure in Australian Market) paper, it would be a clear, abject fail. As for the postgrad ones - they wouldn't dare. That is possibly one of the worst, most superficial analyses I have seen for quite a while. All the key facts are only mentioned in passing or glossed over.

    TampIt
    I had a laugh I was thinking exactly the same thing. A 500 word premise fleshed out by cut and paste to 2000 words. The potential was there, it was like they got bored of it halfway through the data collection phase.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockford View Post
    I had a laugh I was thinking exactly the same thing. A 500 word premise fleshed out by cut and paste to 2000 words. The potential was there, it was like they got bored of it halfway through the data collection phase.
    For what its worth, I didn't post the link to the article as an exemplar of journalism, simply to underscore the fact that Starbucks bombed in OZ, plenty more similar that may not be quite as offensive to your delicate journalistic sensibilities.

    Guess if we are going to get picky the phrase "they got bored of it" is worth looking at, people who live in glass houses.
    tom-best-quote-people-who-live-in-glass-houses-dont-have-much-of-a-sex.jpg
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    Seriously stop taking everything so personally. We weren't having a go at you, just the article, you read way too much into things. Then to come back with a petty grammatical response, please.
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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    "they got bored of it"
    Says it all really...

    Mal.

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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockford View Post
    Seriously stop taking everything so personally. We weren't having a go at you, just the article, you read way too much into things. Then to come back with a petty grammatical response, please.
    Perception of the written word, combined with generational differences/attitudes, can at times lead to misunderstandings, don't think I misread the tone of the post, regardless, hardly an issue to get our t*ts in a knot over, lets move on.
    Perception.png
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    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    I'm not sure how successful this is going to be but I will try to post this article which has information relevant to the topic and may be of interest. I was interested in Angelo's take on his company's impact on Starbucks.


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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Interesting Rocky, do you have a date for the article?

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    Looks like the Australian last week...


    screenshot_287.png

  27. #27
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Thanks Coolie, here's a link for them that can access it.
    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/bus...6deb97e8d80adc

  28. #28
    Senior Member Rocky's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Yeah, Business Review section of last weeks Weekend Australian.
    I didn't post a link as you have to be a subscriber to access the article.
    Not often we get anything on the 'coffee industry' in the Review and I was interested to read about Bean Alliance, it's brands and customers, and sale to the Italian Zanetti outfit.
    ...and of course I was gobsmacked to hear that Bean Alliance was responsible for Starbuck's failure in Australia due to the sale of better coffee for $1. through 711s and Maccas.



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